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Back as closer, Rosenthal excited for new season

JUPITER, Fla. -- A year ago, Trevor Rosenthal reported to Spring Training seeking a spot in the rotation and a place on the Opening Day roster. He landed the latter, and now 12 months later, he finds himself as the Cardinals' closer and the poster child for all the hard-throwing young pitching talent the organization has amassed.

As he prepares for another year in St. Louis, Rosenthal joined for a conversation about the upcoming season and the new role that he will fill. You come into Spring Training already designated as the team's closer. What was your reaction to that announcement coming in November? And what did it mean to you to have the team commit to you for that sort of role?

Rosenthal: I was really excited when they came out and said that, just knowing that going into the season -- first of all -- having just a good idea of what my role was going to look like and giving me a little bit of time to prepare mentally and physically for that role. At the same time, having the opportunity to be a part of this team and be in some big situations shows a lot of faith in what they've seen and what they expect. I'm just looking forward to trying to meet those expectations and continuing to learn. You mentioned preparing for that role. Did your offseason work change because of the type of role you were coming in to fill? Or was it similar to what you've done in the past?

Rosenthal: It was similar. It just changed as far as us going deeper into the postseason and taking a little bit more time off from throwing. Workouts were the same as usual trying to get ready for a long season. But mentally knowing that I had to think more toward the back end of the bullpen like I did last year and not focus so much on having to be stretched out for 100-120 pitches, that was a little bit different and something I talked about with some guys pretty often what my approach could look like and just ways that I could get better. You got a little taste of closing last September and then obviously into the postseason in October. What does that experience do to help you transition into this role full-time? And what do you take especially from the postseason experience as a closer?

Rosenthal: Those are pretty much the situations that are the biggest as far as that role goes. I'll have that to build on knowing that I probably won't be in any bigger pressure situations than being in the World Series and pitching in the ninth inning. I just look to build on that and find out new things from myself and keep learning from the guys on the team who have done it before. Just keep building. You mentioned guys who have done this before, and you have a number of them -- Adam Wainwright, who obviously started his career as a closer; Jason Motte; last year, Edward Mujica. How have you used them as resources to determine what type of mentality you need to have to fill that ninth-inning spot?

Rosenthal: All those guys are so good about what they do. Talking to them, I think, what makes them so good is how they prepare and really their mind-set, more than anything. We're all pretty talented, and we have some different things that we can do that make us special and allow us to compete at this level. Now, I think, the separation is how they approach it -- those nights where they might not do as well as they wish, being able to hang their hat up and know they gave it their best and come back the next day and (get) the job done.

That's what I'm looking forward to the most is learning and really taking away from those guys, as well as their preparation, all the hard work that they've put in before the game. They have confidence when they come to the mound in those situations. It's special to have those guys. You came up through the system as a starter. You've made it no secret that you'd still like the opportunity to start one day. Is that still a goal of yours, to at some point get back into a rotation?

Rosenthal: I think whenever that day comes, that would be nice to have that opportunity. But obviously right now, it's cool, it's a different challenge. I've always viewed myself as wanting to be the guy who threw nine innings and started Game 7 of the World Series. Right now, it's just a different goal, and I'm kind of changing my mind-set a little bit. I'm just trying to be the best that I can be with the opportunities that are given. As you look back at the last 12 months, how much has life changed for you? You made your first Opening Day roster. You and your wife have a baby girl. You closed games in the World Series. How do you look back at what this last year has brought you?

Rosenthal: It's been a whirlwind. I'm very blessed to be in these situations and make a lot of childhood dreams come true so far. I'm just trying to take it all in right now. Luckily, it's a game that I love to play and love to work at, so that makes it easy to come in every day and continue to just keep pushing through. It's been a blast. I'm very fortunate to be with this organization and all the success that we've had as a team, hopefully for years to come. Lastly, as you look ahead to this 2014 season, what most excites you about the team that this Cardinals organization has put together?

Rosenthal: I think the moves that they made in the offseason and the depth that we have at different positions. Our pitching has been a strength, but at the same time, they haven't been really too afraid to make upgrades where needed or to add depth, so that adds a lot of security. When you're around the clubhouse, you get a good feel that we should have a good chance to grow and bond together as teammates. It's such a good group of guys, and the talent is going to show.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.

St. Louis Cardinals, Trevor Rosenthal